Sunday, December 29, 2013

Review: Lenovo Essential G500s – For Everyday Computing & Gaming

For: Build Quality, Looks, Slim Design & Screen.
Against: Only 3 USB Ports, Marginally Overpriced.





The Lenovo Essentials G500s is an everyday computing & gaming laptop powered by 3rd gen 2.5 GHz Intel Core i3 processor with 3MB cache, 4GB DDR3 RAM, 500GB HDD, 15.6 inch LED display, NVIDIA GT 720M 2GB DDR3 dedicated graphics card and pre-installed Windows 8 operating system. G500s (59-382995) is priced at Rs. 38,000.

Design, Build Quality & Display

The G500s is nicely built with slim design and textured matt finish body panels. Overall build quality is respectable. The laptop weighs around 2.5 kgs and feels very nice to hold due to its slim form factor. G500s is lighter as compared to the other models in similar price range. The matte finish makes the laptop look premium and can put other laptops to shame with its design and build quality in 40k category.




It has a 15.6 inch LED display offering standard resolution of 1366 x 768 Pixels. It will be just fine for movies and gaming. Screen offers crisp and clear text, image & video quality. On the top of the screen panel there is a 1.0 Megapixel 720p HD Webcam which offers above average video/image quality.

Speakers, Ports, Keyboard/Touch Pad & Drives

The Lenovo G500s has stereo speakers with Dolby advanced audio which enhances gaming & movie experience. Sound quality is very good. The multi gesture touch pad is nice to use with accurate sensing. G500s has only 3 USB ports including two 3.0 USB ports and one 2.0 USB ports. Other ports includes RJ45 LAN port, HDMI port, VGA port, Multi card slot and audio/mic port. It has a DVD RW optical Drive.




The Lenovo’s AccuType non-backlit Keyboard is full sized with num pad. I am not too impressed with the keyboard attributing to the fact that it is not very responsive and not suitable for prolific writers, though it is good enough for regular use. Lenovo provides a one touch recovery key across its ‘Essentials’ series.

Performance, OS, Storage & Battery life.

The Lenovo Essentials G500s (59-382995) is powered by by 3rd gen 2.5 GHz Intel Core i3 processor with 3MB cache, 4GB DDR3 RAM, 500GB HDD @ 5400RPM, 15.6 inch LED display, NVIDIA GT 720M 2GB DDR3 dedicated graphics card and pre-installed Windows 8 operating system. Motherboard is based on Mobile HM76 Express chipset which is also used in other variants of Lenovo Essentials


.
For all general day to day tasks, G500s performs at ease. The Nvidia GT 720M 2GB DDR3 dedicated graphics card handles all latest graphics hungry games like GTA4, F1 2013 etc. On battery power, graphics is handled by Intel HD Graphics 4000. I didn’t have a chance to check windows experience index rating but it should be above 5.5 – thanks to the dedicated graphic card. With 4GB RAM on board, Windows 8 experience is quite smooth. It can be further increased upto 8GB. 







Hard disk capacity is 500GB spinning at 5400 RPM. As such there is no overheating problem. The standard 6 cell battery provides backup of around 3 hours under normal working conditions. It comes with 1 year onsite warranty support.

Conclusion

G500s is an excellent laptop for everyday computing tasks and for movies & gaming experience. At Rs. 38,000, I somehow feel that it is overpriced by at least a grand or two. With that kind of pricing, G500s would have been a tremendous value for money product.  

Ratings (out of 5 stars)

Build Quality ****
Screen ****
Performance ****
Value for Money ***


Overall ****

Thursday, December 26, 2013

App Review : Android Assistant - A must have app for Android devices!

Android Assistant is a small feature rich system maintenance app available for Android platform. Android Assistant is a very small app with footprint of just 684 KiloBytes.

 It boasts some nice features including system monitor, task killer, process manager, cache cleaner, file manager, battery usage monitor, batch installer/uninstaller, app backup, system info & app permission info, app to SD, power saver, start up manager and the list goes on!

We all use separate apps for file manager, task killers, moving apps to sd card and for so many similar functions but with Android Assistant you can do away with all those apps as all features are now available in one single app.

Let's have a closer look at app's features in detail.

Complete List of features:

 【Top18 features】

1. Monitor status (CPU, RAM, ROM, SD card, Battery)
2. Process Manager (Auto Boost and Quick Boost can distinguish different types of processes thus will not kill fatal system processes and apps in Ignore List.)
3. Cache Cleaner
4. System Clean(Cache, Thumbnail Cache, Temporary File, Log File, Empty Folder, Empty File, Browser History, Clipboard, Market History, Gmail History, Google Earth History, Google Map History)
5. Power Saver(bluetooth, wifi, gps, auto-sync, auto-rotate screen, haptic feedback, screen brightness, timeout)
6. File Manager
7. Startup Manager
8. Batch Uninstall
9. Battery Usage
10. Volume Control
11. Phone Ringtone
12. Startup Time
13. Startup Silent(Menu->Settings->Startup Silent)
14. System Info
15. Widget(Quick Booster[1,4], Shortcuts[4])
16. App 2 SD: Get more free internal phone storage space
17. Batch Install
18. App backup and restore



 


The Android Assistant opens to a simple yet informative interface displaying real time system information like CPU & RAM usage, Battery info like battery level & temperature. It also displays details about storage sources on the phone like SD card and internal memory & ROM.



 


On process tab, you will find the list of all active apps which you can kill manually and sort according to name, CPU or memory consumption. The tools tab has all core features of the app like system cleaner, file manager, app to sd etc.



 


On monitoring tab, there is a quick boost button which will kill selected apps running unnecessary in the background. You can choose the apps to be killed from the settings panel.



 

           System Clear Utility                                    Batch Uninstall Utility


Now let's have a closer look at each utility offered in Tools tab. The system clear utility will scan your phone  for junk & temporary files created over the period of use. Batch Uninstaller is a fantastic utility with which you can uninstall multiple apps at once.



 

          Batch Install Utility                                      Volume Settings Utility


Similar like batch uninstaller, we have batch installer with which one can install multiple apps from external .apk stored on SD card or phone's storage. Volume settings utility can control the overall volume of your phone like ringer volume, alarm volume, media volume etc. This feature is very handy for those with non-functional volume control buttons on their phones.


 

         Phone Ringtone Utility                                  Power Saver Utility              
    

Phone ringtone allows one to change phone's state from loud to silent or vibration and vice-versa. Power saver utility allows to control phone's brightness, vibration, sleep settings, network switch etc to save battery.


 

          Cache Cleaner Utility                                      File Manager Utility

The app cache clear utility will scan all apps installed on the phone for junk & temporary files created over the period of use. File manager utility lets you access your files & folders stored on SD card or phone's storage.


 

        Start Up Manager Utility                                 Battery Usage Utility


Startup manager utility manages apps which automatically runs on phone's startup. You can select which app should or should not start on its own. Battery usage utility will display information about battery usage by all apps.


 

                                                  System Info Utility

System info utility displays all basic information about your phone's hardware and what all features it supports.


 

              App2SD Utility                                        Backup & Restore Utility


App2SD utility allows you to shift apps from phone's internal memory to SD card. Backup utility allows one to create a backup of every app installed on the phone including its state like game progress and info.



           Permissions Utility                                                         About the App


The Last utility is Permissions which quickly displays the permissions sought by all apps installed on your phone.


Conclusion 

To sum up, Android Assistant is a fantastic and must have app for every Android phone user. It consumes very low system resources and has some very nice features at your disposal. Android Assistant is available for download on Google Playstore Download Android Assistant

Ratings - 5/5. 


Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Review: Lenovo IdeaPad Z580 – A value for money companion for everyday computing!

For: Build Quality, Looks, Screen
Against: Touch Pad




The Lenovo IdeaPad Z580 is an affordable everyday computing laptop featuring a 3rd gen 2.4 GHz Core i3 processor coupled with 3MB cache, 4GB DDR3 RAM, 500GB HDD, 15.6 inch LED display,  Intel HD Graphics 4000 and pre-installed Windows 8 operating system. This particular model (59-383215) is available in white color. All this configuration is available for Rs. 34,000.

Design, Build Quality & Display

The Z series of Lenovo IdeaPad is known for its mid-range entertainment laptops. The Z580 is a perfect laptop for all those movie buffs. The IdeaPad Z580 is made of fine quality glossy plastic panels. White color gives it a premium look. The overall build quality is quite decent. I did not find the screen panel to be flimsy. The no non-sense design of the Z580 pleases all and offends none.  The design will be preferred by all consumers who prefer no frills patterns based design on laptop. It’s quite heavy at 2.7KGs but considering its footprint of 376 x 250 x 35.5 mm justifies the weight.







The IdeaPad Z580 has a 15.6 inch LED display offering resolution of 1366 x 768 Pixels. Screen quality is brilliant. The images and videos looks crisp and watching movies on it will be a nice experience. On the outer panel there is a plain Lenovo logo placed on the upper left section. There is a 1.0 Megapixel HD Webcam which offers above average image/video quality.

Speakers, Ports, Keyboard/Touch Pad & Drives

One of the best part of this laptop is its Dolby Surround speakers which will enhance your movies experience. The inbuilt Dolby speakers sounds a lot better than many aftermarket USB speakers. The IdeaPad Z580 has two USB 3.0 ports, two USB 2.0 ports, HDMI port and other basic necessary ports like LAN, Multicard slot, VGA port etc. It also has a DVD RW drive. The so called Smooth Glass Like Touchpad is not upto the mark. It failed to register input movements many times and seems to be unsynchronized with respect to user input. I am not sure if this is the case with all Z series or with this particular model. Touchpad supports five-finger gestures and provides easy scroll, zoom, and rotate functions.






The standard full size keyboard with number pad is nice to use and ergonomically comfortable. It comes with the Thermal Management System which regulates the fan-speed and maintains an optimized temperature. A one key recovery option is also provided for system recovery purposes. 


Performance, OS, Storage & Battery life.

The Lenovo IdeaPad Z580 (59-383215) is powered by a 3rd gen 2.4 GHz Core i3 processor coupled with 3MB cache, 4GB DDR3 RAM, 500GB HDD and Intel HD Graphics 4000. Motherboard is based on Mobile HM76 Express chipset. For general day to day computing, the performance is at par. For movies viewing etc, the Intel HD 4000 integrated graphics does the duty. There is no dedicated graphic card on this laptop. Medium games can be played without any issue but don’t expect to play graphic hungry games on this machine. On Windows Experience Index this machine scored a rating of 4.8. More or less it is an everyday computing and entertainment laptop.




It comes with pre-installed 64bit Windows 8 operating system. 4GB DDR3 RAM results in smooth Windows 8 performance. Memory can be expanded upto 8GB. It has a 500 GB hard disk spinning @5400 RPM. It would have been great if it came with 1TB HDD. 





There is hardly any overheating problem with this laptop. It is powered by a 6 cell battery which provides backup of 3+ hours under normal working conditions. It comes with only 1 year onsite warranty Accidental Damage Protection support.

Conclusion

For day to day computing and entertainment, the Lenovo IdeaPad Z580 has decent configurations.

Ratings (out of 5 stars)
Build Quality ****
Screen ****
Performance ***
Value for Money ****


Overall ****

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Review: Micromax Canvas 4 A210 – One Heck of a Smartphone!

For: Build Quality, Specifications, Features, Camera & What Not.
Against: Loudspeaker sound quality could have been better, Long term reliability factor.  



The Micromax Canvas 4 A210 has been launched in India in July 2013 with a price tag of Rs. 17,000. The smartphone is powered by a Quad-core 1.2 GHz Cortex-A7 processor, MTK 6589 chipset, 1GB RAM, PowerVR SGX544 GPU, 16GB internal memory, SD card support upto 32GB, 13MP primary camera + 5MP secondary camera, 5.0 inches IPS LCD capacitive touchscreen with HD resolution 720 x 1280 pixels which gives 294 ppi pixel density and Android OS v4.2.1 Jelly Bean.




Micromax Canvas 4 A210 is a phone which you can’t simply ignore. The specifications it offers, the design it wears and the price at which it is made available makes this phone simply outstanding. Other than that this phone is also a threat to the likes of Samsung, Sony, HTC etc counterparts. Let’s have a closer look at the device and find out why it is one of the best mid-high range smartphone.


Screen & Build Quality

The Micromax Canvas 4 A210 is an exquisite phone in terms of design. The sleek anodized aluminum body makes it very premium. Build quality is good. Micromax claims that the aluminum body acts as an antenna which results in superior call quality.   The side panels are surrounded with fine finish chrome strip. The phone weighs around 158 grams and it is not very light of the lot but feels sturdy. Overall the design is similar to Samsung S3.   




It has 5.0 inches IPS LCD capacitive touchscreen with HD resolution 720 x 1280 pixels which gives 294 ppi pixel density. Screen is Corning Gorilla Glass protected. Touch response is decent. Color saturation, contrast ratios are good which makes watching videos/photos & playing games a delight. Viewing angles are also very good – Thanks to the IPS display. The screen is bit reflective but still under the sun visibility was good. At this price point, overall display is just fantastic.






Below the display you'll find the three capacitive touch keys for Menu, Home and Back. A 5MP camera along with couple of sensors is placed above the display near the chrome grill earpiece. Back cover is removable made of fine plastic, upon removing the cover you will find two sim card slots and an sd card slot above the battery compartment. A 13.0 Megapixels camera & LED flash is placed on top left corner of back cover with couple of Micromax brand logos.


Camera, Buttons & call/audio quality

 The Micromax Canvas 4 A210 comes with an excellent 13.0 MegaPixel primary camera with LED flash and features like autofocus, Geo-tagging, touch focus, face and smile detection, HDR & panorama. Image quality is very impressive in both indoor and outdoor photos. It is capable of recording full HD videos @ 30fps. A dedicated camera button is missed. A 5.0 megapixel secondary camera is provided for vide calling purpose. Quality is very good.  When was the last time when you heard of a 5 MP secondary camera on a smartphone!





Like every other smartphone, Canvas 4 has power button on the right side, volume rocker on left side, data cum charging port below and 3.5mm audio jack on the top of the phone. All buttons are very nice to feel and operate. Call quality is good but loudspeaker quality is mediocre. Though the supplied earphones are of good quality.


OS/Performance and Battery

The Micromax Canvas 4 A210  is powered by a Quad-core 1.2 GHz Cortex-A7 processor, MTK 6589 chipset, 1GB RAM, PowerVR SGX544 GPU, 16GB internal memory, SD card support upto 32GB and Android OS v4.2.1 Jelly Bean. It is expected to have Android 4.3 soon on this device.  Similar to most other Android devices, there are five customisable home screens that can be filled with app shortcuts and widgets. Micromax has not tweaked the OS as such but has provided few proprietary apps mzone  mlive, mgame hub, msecurity etc. It has features like smart stay & smart video pause.  It also has an interesting feature of unlocking the phone by simply blowing air over it or shaking the phone. One can increase and decrease the volume or brightness while playing a video by just swiping up and down the screen at the left and right hand sides.



Canvas 4 screams performance! It handles every app very smoothly and with ease. The performance is very fluidic and snappier due to the quad core Cortex A7 processor & 1GB RAM. No lag and no hiccups at all. Gaming is handled by PowerVR SGX544 GPU which results in excellent gameplay and graphic rich games like real racing are treat to play on this device. Navigating through different screens and switching between apps is lightning fast. It scored a very promising 4074 score on quadrant benchmark test. With 10GB user available internal memory and 32GB SD card support, one can store huge multimedia content on the device.





Canvas 4 is powered by Li-Ion 2000 mAh battery which the company claims to give around 8 hours of talk time. In general day to day use this should last a day but it would have been much better if the battery capacity was at least 2200 or 2500 mAh because gaming on this phone will suck lots of battery juice.



Verdict

Micromax has expanded its Canvas range by offering Canvas 4 which is basically a niche product for people who wants a power packed device with premium looks and build quality. The only concern would be the long term reliability and service support of Micromax which needs to be at par. Micromax Canvas 4 is an excellent device and recommended for anyone looking for a new smartphone in 15k+ smartphone segment. Since its Diwali season, the phone is available for around 16.5k, rest depends on customer’s bargaining skills.

Ratings (out of 5 stars)

Build Quality ****
Screen ****
Performance ****
Value for Money ****
Overall ****

Screen
IPS LCD capacitive touchscreen with 720 x 1280 pixels resolution
Processor
Quad-core 1.2 GHz Cortex-A7 processor
RAM
1GB RAM
Storage
16GB internal storage(10GB user available), expandable up to 32GB via microSD
Camera
13-megapixel autofocus camera with LED flash and 5MP front camera
Network Type
Dual SIM, 3G, Wi-Fi Hotspot, Bluetooth 4.0, EDGE, GPRS, GPS
Battery
2000mAh removable battery
OS
Android 4.2 (Jelly Bean)
Dimensions
144.5 x 73.8 x 8.9 mm
Weight
158 grams